Among the startup community, we have often found ourselves very different and almost out of place compared to our peers. Being a Medical and Healthcare startup we firstly do not deal with customers, leads or even clients…we call them Patients and our work often makes a difference to their lives and even death. Having stepped out of a hospital and clinic environment two years ago to deep dive into this challenging world of entrepreneurship, I have had to deal with some of the greatest challenges that often came from veiled charlatans and the problems we face are a far cry to what most other startups are accustomed to. During these times I have had to manage marketers, programmers, investors and even some “wheeler dealers” and can conclude that most of them just don’t really comprehend the level of commitment, responsibility and complexity of managing a startup like ours.
Our business model is complex! For a Doctor it is almost inconceivable for us to provide a simple value proposition which does not benefit our patients in a wholesome way. We do not have the luxury of just thinking about basic problems like creating a booking schedule, making a video call or delivering medication. Our work encompasses anything and everything that we are sworn to by the Hippocratic oath which is to treat the ill to the best of our ability and to preserve a patient’s privacy. In spite of the challenges that we face in running a business, I am still inspired to carry on with accountability and dedication, a mission to help the lives of our patients and make a real difference in their medical care. Let me share a share a few stories that have inspired me to endeavour through the challenges.
Madam Kwan is a 94 year old lady who was diagnosed with a spinal spondylosis which is a defect of her back bone and it compresses the nerves of her lower back which not only limits her ability to walk but also makes her unable to get out out of bed without assistance. She also has a heart with a irregular heart beat and is functionally working at under 50%. Her chronic asthma makes things more complicated Her condition requires her to be on a Oxygen concentrator for 16 hours of the day. Fortunately, her family is rather affluent and is able to afford the quality of care that we would wish for ourselves if ever afflicted with such a medical problem. Her bungalow which is located by a scenic golf course is full of disabled friendly amenities, she has two domestic helpers to assist her with her daily living activities and her family members are dedicated to doing their best to make sure she is comfortable.. One can not imagine the limitation of her daily activities and yet I have found that people from the generation that precedes the second world war are usually far tougher and stronger than our current generation will ever be. Her family had initially contacted us for our home blood test service and have since then been booking our qualified and certified doctors once a week to go in to monitor her condition. She will soon be on Occupational Therapy and we hope to be able to get her back onto her feet again.
Opah Robiah is another lady who is also in her 90s who had a fall 4 years ago and fractured her hip. She too suffers from chronic asthma and was not fit enough to proceed for any kind of surgery after her fall. Although is it not common for such fractures to be operated on, she would have been an excellent candidate for physiotherapy and occupational therapy but her chronic rheumatoid arthritis has rendered both her knees to become fixed and without the ability to bend them without severe pain. She has become accustomed to breathing in short gasps and her lungs are constricted throughout the day in spite of the inhalers and medications that have been prescribed. Her diabetes has also affected her kidneys and her blood test show us that they are close to failing. Her three daughters care for her with the utmost love and respect in spite of living within a shoestring budget. She lives in a low cost flat without a lift which makes shuttling her to the nearby hospital for her regular appointments at various departments almost impossible. Even ambulance teams have difficulty manoeuvring her through constricted stairwells and tight corners. Most of the time the cost of hiring a ambulance to transport her to the nearest hospital which is less than a kilometre away is more than half of their monthly income.
Madam Kwan and Opah Robiah are excellent examples of how disease and sickness do not discriminate based ones financial status. Our Doctors, Nurses, Physiotherapist and other healthcare professionals are working with the utmost dedication to reduce the burden of their medical condition and bring peace of mind to their families and loved ones by doing all that we can to make the remainder of their lives more comfortable and safe. Both ladies have been strong pillars in society and have contributed by raising sons and daughters whom symbolise our Malaysian values of respecting and maintaining the dignity of our parents and elders. At the end of our lives, it is their families whom make the difference and we are absolutely privileged to be able to provide our services for them.
Let me share one more story which deals with the other spectrum of life which is the birth of a little baby girl who was only a week old when the family called us for a consultation. She was being adopted into a family and they were very anxious to determine if the little one was healthy and free from any medical conditions. When we saw the child she was so tiny that she was drowning in her quilt and even her umbilical stump had not fallen off yet. Examining such a child from head to toe, going through the blood investigations and writing a report comes as routine to us clinicians. We are often sterile to the joy, happiness and pure bliss that the receiving parents, grandparents and family members encounter when receiving a new life into the world. The moment the Doctor confirmed and reassured the family that she is a healthy child, one could literally feel the jubilation and joy of every one present. I am confident that this little girl swill be cared and loved for the rest of her life with much care and affection.
Healthcare Professionals may have some of the toughest jobs in the world but It is my hope that all those believe in us, including Investors, marketers, programmers, designers and other startup entrepreneurs will truly understand what it means to be in the ‘business of saving lives’. We welcome those who share this passion and will continue to strive to help all those in need of better access medical care with our mission of bringing “Healthcare to your Doorstep”.